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Barry Forshaw
Classical CD Choice, February 2012

For Respighians, an essential issue—a recording of the never-before recorded violin concerto of the composer (not the better-known Concerto Gregoriano), burnished with some other neglected pieces (Rossiniana excepted). Not a lost masterpiece, but tempting for admirers of the composer—at a handsome bargain price. © 2012 Classical CD Choice

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, November 2011

Thanks to the efforts of Di Vittorio, and the capable hands and sensitive voice of violinist Laura Marzadori, this romantically expressive score is brought to us complete for the first time. The current Naxos release, in addition to excellent performances and recording, offers to the Respighi fan a combination of never-before-heard music and works in never-before-heard transcriptions by Salvatore Di Vittorio. Strongly recommended.

Lawrence Hansen
American Record Guide, November 2011

This is a splendid program of mostly rare items, beautifully played and very well recorded.

The early violin concerto…that conductor Vittorio did quite a bit of extrapolation to complete the finale…is a delightful work, light, airy, and bucolic, with moments that remind me of Vaughan Williams. It’s a modest 21-minute work with cheerful, sunny outer Allegros flanking a beautiful, lyrical slow movement. Miss Marzadori plays the solo part with a warm, nuanced, unforced tone and gets secure, sympathetic support from Vittorio and the orchestra.

The sonics here are superb, another standard CD (about the third one in this issue) that I can say rivals the full-bodied sound quality of an SACD.

To read the complete review, please visit American Record Guide online.

Christopher Howell
MusicWeb International, October 2011

Taking the music on its own terms, the first movement has an engaging freshness, with carolling wind at the beginning sounding a little like Nielsen…

The Suite for Strings is…agreeable…Di Vittorio’s careful moulding of the slower movements may be admired, but a little more zip in the faster ones would not have done any harm.

…“Rossiniana”…has a creative vitality and a sound world that mark it out as wholly individual.

Respighi completists will want the new material on the present CD. The sound on the new disc is clear and close.

James McCarthy
Limelight, October 2011

given the rarity and attractiveness of the music, this disc is…worth pursuing. Read complete review

Andrew Achenbach
Gramophone, September 2011

Early Respighi offerings completed and championed by a real advocate

Top billing goes to Salvatore Di Vittorio’s completion of the Violin Concerto that the 24-year-old Respighi left unfinished in 1903, having composed the first two movements and just a few bars of the finale. It hardly constitutes a major find, though the slow movement does eventually blossom into something beautiful—try the Tranquillo episode beginning at 5’14”. Laura Marzadori proves a big-hearted, assertive soloist, though her tone is not always the most ingratiating.

The concerto is framed by Di Vittorio’s transcriptions of the mellifluous Aria from 1901 (which Respighi incorporated seven years later into his Suite in G major for strings and organ) and the 1902 Suite for strings, the latter a pleasingly inventive creation whose second movement “Siciliana” and concluding “Rigaudon” in particular suggest a more than passing acquaintance with Grieg’s Holberg Suite. Di Vittorio secures a tidy response from his young New York band…

Jeff Dunn
San Francisco Classical Voice, July 2011

…the 1903 concerto…features a lively, tuneful first movement followed by a subdued, romantic meditation. Di Vittorio wisely and idiomatically finishes the package with a 4½-minute finale from sketch fragments and motives from the first two movements. Laura Marzadori does a fine job with her unchallenging solo violin score.

…if you’d like some fresh Italian air, you oughta hear this Ottorino., July 2011

Well over a century later, the violin appears in very different form in the 1903 concerto in A by Ottorino Respighi. The composer never finished this work—the version heard in its world première on a new Naxos CD was revised and completed by conductor Salvatore Di Vittorio, who is himself a composer. This concerto is largely composed with a look backwards, toward the concertos of Mendelssohn and other Romantic-era composers, although its emotional content seems more like the donning of an expected garment than a genuine expression of inner feelings. There is a fair degree of virtuosic display here—all of which Laura Marzadori handles quite well—but not so much plumbing of emotional depths. The work is most interesting for its coloristic handling of the orchestra: written two decades before the Roman Trilogy, it foreshadows some of the effects that Respighi would later use. Also on this CD is another Respighi world première recording: the Aria for Strings, transcribed by Di Vittorio. It is a short and graceful work of no great importance. The Suite for Strings, heard here in a Di Vittorio revision, is more substantial and more interesting, filled with grace and elegance that reflect the music and sensibilities of older times—which always fascinated Respighi, as shown most notably in his three suites of Ancient Airs and Dances. Indeed, this work somewhat resembles the third Ancient Airs and Dances suite, the only one written for strings rather than full orchestra. The fourth work on this CD is a suite of another sort: Rossiniana, which is less known and somewhat less ebullient than La boutique fantasque but carries much of the same verve in this nicely played performance. The CD as a whole offers a pleasant mixture of unknown Respighi works with one whose comparative familiarity helps put the others in perspective.

Mike D. Brownell, July 2011

Founded in 2006 by composer and conductor Salvatore di Vittorio, the New York Chamber Orchestra ‘Ottorini Respighi’ has among its goals the promotion of Respighi’s works. This is a noble and worthwhile endeavor as many listeners are undoubtedly unfamiliar with the bulk of Respighi’s vast output apart from the extremely popular Roman Trilogy. The orchestra is made up entirely of young professional musicians, a model found less frequently in the U.S. than abroad. Listening to this Naxos album, di Vittorio’s orchestra sounds every bit as mature and seasoned as more veteran orchestras. The program features di Vittorio’s own revised version of the Suite for strings, a work that can easily be counted among the great string serenades of Tchaikovsky, Elgar, and Dvoƙák. In the suite, the able-bodied chamber orchestra produces a wonderfully rich, velvety tone that ideally complements Respighi’s melodious writing and expert scoring. The same appealing sound quality is achieved when the winds and brass join in for the Rossiniana Suite for orchestra. Top billing on the program goes to the A major Violin Concerto, P. 49. This concerto went unfinished by Respighi, and is heard here in a completed and revised version by di Vittorio. Though the work is interesting, it is also the least successful on the album. Respighi’s trademark lush orchestration and suave writing are absent here. What’s more, violinist Laura Marzadori’s playing of the solo part is sometimes strained and occasionally marred intonation difficulties. Still, the recording fills a gap in recordings of Respighi’s oeuvre and is more than worthwhile for the Suite for strings alone.

Brian Wilson Download Roundup
MusicWeb International, July 2011

...the Violin Concerto, begun in 1903 and never completed, was well worth Salvatore di Vittorio’s time in revising, completing and performing, and ours in listening. Two of the other works are also unfamiliar: the Aria and, in its revised form, again the work of Di Vittorio, the Suite for strings. Only Rossiniana, a delightful concoction of Rossini’s ‘sins of his old age’, given the same treatment as the Ancient Airs and Dances for the Lute, La Boutique Fantasque and Gli Uccelli, though not quite in the same league, is at all familiar; everything here is attractive, though I thought that the Suite slightly outstayed its welcome.

WQXR (New York), June 2011

Violin Concerto…[w]ith its Slavonic melodic touches, the concerto is somewhat reminiscent of Respighi’s teacher Rimsky-Korsakov, but it also inhabits the lush, romantic sound world of Bruch and Brahms. The young violinist Laura Marzadori plays the piece quite well, with a combination of lyrical effusiveness and quicksilver bravado.

The Aria for Strings and the Suite for Strings are attractive, early exercises in neo-baroque writing, with the latter piece laid out in movements like “Ciaccona,” “Siciliana,” and so forth. Finally, in the orchestral suite Rossiniana (1926), Respighi pays homage to one of his great heroes in a colorful score that seems to filter Rossini’s music through the more modern style of Respighi. All of these works are given well-shaped and generally cohesive performances that do this lesser-known music justice.

David Hurwitz, June 2011

The most noteworthy piece on this disc of Respighi rarities and premiere recordings is the early Violin Concerto, revised and completed by conductor Salvatore Di Vittorio. The first two movements are complete, the finale sketched out as to its initial thematic material. Di Vittorio has completed it quite effectively by turning it into a rondo based on the tunes of the earlier movements, a process very similar to that found in, say, Gershwin’s Piano Concerto or Bartók’s Second for that instrument. Suffice it to say that the piece sounds like genuine Respighi, with anticipations of such characteristic moments as the catacombs in The Pines of Rome. Laura Marzadori plays the piece very well, with a nice balance of lyrical fulsomeness and virtuoso flashiness.

The Suite for Strings, in six dance-inspired movements, is the largest work in this recital, and reveals the composer in one of his neo-baroque moods. Rossiniana makes an appealing conclusion; it’s not nearly as well known as the composer’s other Rossini pastiche, La boutique fantasque, but it’s just as much fun (the funereal second movement has remarkable atmosphere and sounds more like Verdi). The orchestra, a New York “pickup” ensemble, plays quite well for the most part; there are a few moments of splayed ensemble in the strings in the concluding Tarantella of Rossiniana, but otherwise there’s very little to carp at, and the sonics are quite good. For fans of the composer this disc is a must, and I also can see the opening Aria for strings getting a good bit of radio play. It’s a charmer.

Ian Lace
MusicWeb International, June 2011

For Respighi enthusiasts this is a novel and worthy release.

The Chamber Orchestra of New York ‘Ottorino Respighi’ was founded by Salvatore Di Vittorio in 2006. It comprises leading young professional musicians. As its name implies, a principal aim is to promote the music of Respighi and other Italian masters. On the evidence of this CD, their enthusiasm and that of their conductor is indisputable. His revisions, transcriptions and completions are sensitive to Respighi’s neo-Baroque style.

Respighi’s unfinished A major Violin Concerto was written in 1903 when the composer was in his mid-twenties. He completed the first two movements and began the third in piano reduction with only a few measures orchestrated. Di Vittorio has reviewed all three movements enhancing the orchestration of the first two and extending the scope of the third using material from the other movements. This Violin Concerto has a sunny disposition. It is lyrical and romantic and is reminiscent of Vivaldi and the youthful Mendelssohn. Although not in the same class as the 1908 Concerto all’antica, the gorgeous Concerto Gregoriano (1921) and the single movement Poema autunnale (1925), this little Concerto has much to commend it especially the rapturous sylvan central movement. One can hear distant echoes here of Respighi’s later music such as the central ‘Janiculum’ of the Pines of Rome. Laura Marzadori gives a most compelling reading, tenderly romantic in the slow movement and passionate in the exuberant finale. She is given sterling support by the talented and enthusiastic young orchestra and by the dedication of Di Vittorio. The premiere of the completion of this First Violin Concerto was held in New York in 2010.

The enchanting Suite for Strings from 1902 comprises six movements in Baroque style. It may be regarded as the precursor of Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances No. 3 for strings. The movements comprise: a solemn chaconne with characterful variations, a graceful Siciliana,a joyful and scurrying Giga, a lovely mournful Sarabande, a playful Burlesca and an elegant Rigaudon.

The 1901 Aria for Strings nods back to the era of Vivaldi, Frescobaldi and Corelli and was later incorporated by Respighi into his Suite in G major for strings and organ. Di Vittorio’s sensitive and affectionate transcription based on Respighi’s original manuscript and hand-written parts makes this a serene little elegy for either string orchestra as here, or string quintet.

Rossiniana is the best known work here and enthusiasts will know that this work is based on piano pieces that Rossini completed in retirement. Respighi stamped his own personality on them and created a colourfully orchestrated work of much wit and charm. Listening to the operatic indulgences of the second Lamento one might have thought that this work was a ‘Verdiana’. This is a warm-hearted breezy performance that competes well with other recordings.

The recorded sound is first class.

A notable release for Respighi enthusiasts.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2011

Begun when he was in his early twenties, Respighi progressed no further than a few bars into the finale when it appears he lost interest in a projected Violin Concerto. At the time he was earning a living as a violinist and violist, the first three works on the disc predating his decision to devote himself to composition. The disc’s booklet does not elaborate on how significant has been the ‘enhancement of orchestration’ undertaken by the young Italian composer and conductor, Salvatore Di Vittorio, but it does indicate that much composition had to take place for his completion the finale. Setting all of that aside the result is pleasing in its own way, though I would never have guessed in a year of Sundays that it came from Respighi. That would be equally true of the Suite for Strings dating from the same period. Owing much to Baroque influences it is performed in a revised version from Di Vittorio, and it is his transcription from the manuscript that we hear the Aria for Strings. You might recognise this as part of Respighi’s Suite for organ and strings. Lastly we have Respighi adaptation of piano pieces by Rossini to form the lighthearted Rossiniana. Laura Marzadori is the likeable soloist in a concerto that poses few technical challenges. She is accompanied by a Chamber Orchestra formed from young New York musicians in 2006. It appears a small ensemble that needed additional players to bring the zest we enjoy from JoAnn Falletta and Buffalo Philharmonic on an earlier Naxos release of Rossiniana. Here the sound is rather dry, close and offers much clarity. The Concerto and Aria are receiving their world premiere recordings.

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